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CELAFI'25 is a digital archival repository dedicated to: collecting, preserving, and making available data that evidences the artistic contributions of Black Canadians to the Canadian mosaic and the historical and culturally significant impact of CELAFI.


In 1992, CAN:BAIA coordinated its first major undertaking, a six-day international, multi-disciplinary conference and festival, CELAFI '92,  hosted by Toronto's Harbourfront Centre for the Arts with the theme 'Celebrating African Identity: Strategies of Empowerment, Affirmation and Discovery'. The success of CELAFI '92, led five years later to CELAFI '97, a multi-venue, international event with the theme 'Celebrating African Identity: Entering the Millennium', which once more provided an extraordinary opportunity for African Canadian artists and their work to receive even greater national and international exposure.


Canadian Artists Network: Black Artists in Action (CAN:BAIA) was the Toronto based national, multi-disciplinary organization that envisioned and mounted CELAFI with the objective of manifesting the burning creativity of Black Canadian artists for the benefit of all. in 1990, CAN:BAIA was incorporated as a national non-profit organization with a board of directors and executive committee drawn from representatives across the country. Membership included professional artists, cultural workers, curators, art educators and art enthusiasts.  The membership driven organization launched a number of impactful initiatives, CELAFI'92 and CELAFI'97 stands out as their most far-reaching and career igniting platforms for Black Canadian Artists. In 1999 the organization ceased operation.  but it's contribution lives on... 


CLICK HERE for more on CAN:BAIA and CELAFI .

For both Orla Garriques and myself, this undertaken was driven by a sense of "where am I  in this equation we call being a Canadian". The current contents of the CELAFI'25 Online Archive are drawn from my personal collection and records with contribution by Orla Garriques, who also designed and build CELAFI'25 Online presence.  However we are hoping  those who visit will want to add their memories and/or archive to the collection for all to celebrate and share



Betty Reynolds Clarke,


Grecia Mayers,

Cherise  Solomon

Erica Shaw,


The CELAFI'25 Archive was born out of my online search in 2014 for evidence of the mammoth and purposeful undertakings by Canadian Artist Network: Black Artist In Action (CAN: BAIA).  Its flagship events, the CELAFI 1992 and CELAFI 1997 Conferences and Festivals, were events whose objectives were to unite and showcase the wealth of Canada's National Black community of artist practitioners and their creations.  The events were groundbreaking at the time, and surely, there would be a lasting record of these important events and the works they showcased.  Sadly, I found little to nothing of this national/international diasporas artistic perspective online, and relatively little reference to the hundreds of Canadians and their International counterparts who participated in these two extraordinary events - How could that be?


CELAFI 1997’s theme celebrated Canadian Black Artists’ and their art on the cusp of the 21st century, with all the promise the century ahead offered, so it was devastating in 2014, fourteen years into this new millennium's accelerated digital age, to realize "Black Canadian Artists" were less than a blip on Canada's recorded national historic arts mosaic. 


CELAFI's invisibility pricked my soul, because I was privy to the hard work of over 1500 individuals from across the country who laboured on behalf of both CELAFI 1992 and CELAFI 1997, in particular, CAN:BAIA's President - Ayanna Black, whose incredibly dogged determination made these landmark events in Canada's history a reality, and shone much needed light where there was none. “Put this right” was my next thought- cloud. As one of CELAFI 1992’s event producers and CELAFI 1997’s General Manager, I could take on the responsibility to make it so from my own personal archives.  “Could” quickly turned to “will” when, as if by magic, community activist/Staples Copy Center Manager Sandra Andrews entered my orbit and offered to digitize my collection and just as unexpectedly Betty (Reynolds-Clarke), a close friend and long-standing “art-culture advocate” and audience participant in both CELAFI events,  supplied un-wavering encouragement and her own collection of artifacts.

The impetus to build the CELAFI'25 Archive, a dynamic and ever evolving collection of Black Canadian Artists and their creations, and do so in partnership with CELAFI 1997’s Alumnus Orla Garriques is driven by a sense of "Loss":  Loss of history; Loss of an education/mentorship resource; Loss of community; and we are doing just that!! 

What follows is a historical sketch CELAFI journey

Betty Reynolds Clarke

“art-culture advocate”


Betty Reynolds Clarke’s unwavering friendship has been my constant companion and a moral compass for almost as long as I have been in Canada, my transplanted homeland. Hearing her glorious voice in song is as comforting and reassuring as the care and nurturing she imbue into a long nursing career, and the encouragement she continues to un-failingly provides as a true “art-culture advocate”

ART CONNECTS, ORLA Garriques (250 words)

In 1997 Orla Garriques  Join the Organization, it was A life-changing moment and my first exposure to the incredible wealth of talent and history that I have been missing in my education and 

- Meeting Marva, led to a life long of projects and collaborations, starting with Artists Slide registry Munn’s archives played a critical role in my discovery and pursuit in the art.

- The CELAFI experience was on of multi-decipline, .... and

This experience left an indelible mark and marked the beginning of my work in the arts 

- 1998 -1999, As CAN:BAIA drew to a close one of the final projects as had the privilege of working on was in 1999 she worked with Simon Njami on the Canadian entry to the Revue Noire Travel exhibit and tour 'Anthology of African and Indian Ocean Photography', Presenting a comprehensive chronicle of African photography, work includes over 500 images by 160 photographers from the mid-1800s to the present and 30 essays by .....

"art, artists, and art-making are central to human inspiration, self-realization, and meaning".

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